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Last Month's "Planet X" Announcement Was Probably Wrong 44

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the science-ruins-everything dept.
KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "Last month, astronomers announced the discovery of the most distant body in the Solar System, a dwarf planet called 2012VP113. They also said this body's orbit was strangely aligned with several other dwarf planets in the Kuiper Belt and that this could be the result of these bodies being herded by a much larger Planet X even further from the Sun. They calculated that this hidden planet could be between 2 and 15 times the mass of the Earth and orbiting at a distance of between 200 AU and 300 AU, an announcement that triggered excited headlines around the world. Now it looks as though these predictions were wildly optimistic. It turns out that the position of Planet X can be constrained more tightly using orbital measurements of other planets. And when this data is added into the mix, Planet X can only only orbit at much greater distances, if it exists at all. The new calculations suggest that a planet twice the mass of Earth cannot orbit any closer than about 500 AU. And a planet 15 times the mass of Earth must be at least 1000 AU distant. What's more, the New Horizons mission currently on its way to Pluto, should constrain the distance to beyond 4700 AU. So any Planet X hunters out there are likely to be disappointed."
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Last Month's "Planet X" Announcement Was Probably Wrong

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  • by Zocalo (252965) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @08:55AM (#46703689) Homepage
    Hopefully they will name it something beginning with "P" so mnemonics like "My Very Easy Method, Just Set Up Nine Planets" and so on all work again, or has anyone come up with a good one for the current 8 planet setup?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Soon on all paranormal/extraterrestrial channels: "NASA confirms the existence of Planet X : New Horizons probe discovers a giant Earth-like planet 4700 AU away from the Sun"
      • by jythie (914043)
        More likely 'NASA calculations show distance of Planet X, results quickly covers up by retracted claims with fake math'
    • by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @09:15AM (#46703799) Homepage

      Mary's "Virgin" Excuse Made Joseph Suspect Upstairs Neighbour.

    • Just go "My Very Easy Method, Just Set Up Nine ... oh."
    • by Zalbik (308903)

      Seriously? It's 8 names in order....just memorize them.

      Look, I'm all for mnemonics (although there are better methods) when needing to memorize multiple-dozens of pieces of information, but for a list of 8, I can't believe people use a mnemonic.

      Do you also use a mnemonic to remember the days of the week in order? Months of the year?

      • Months:
        Just For Memory, A Mouse Jumps Jelly And Somebody Orange Never Diets.
        Jelly Frogs March About My Jelly Jungle Almost Slipping Onto Neighbour's Doormat
        Jammy Fingers Might Annoy My Jealous Jumping Auntie So Ought Not Dance
        Jumping Frogs Might Annoy Me Just Joking About Skipping Over Napping Daddy
        Jane Found Michael And Martin Juggling Jelly And Sprinkles Outside Nelly's Door

        Then, of course, there are mnemonics [wikipedia.org] for even shorter lists of words, used by much more educated people as learning tools.
    • Hopefully they will name it something beginning with "P" so mnemonics like "My Very Easy Method, Just Set Up Nine Planets" and so on all work again, or has anyone come up with a good one for the current 8 planet setup?

      Puranus?

  • Duh, they were announcing planet X. Those anouncements have always turned out to be wrong! That was fun. We'll do this again in a couple of years.

  • Why disappointed? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by captainpanic (1173915) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @09:23AM (#46703881)

    Only the mad conspiracy hatters will be disappointed, because they already know that planet X is on a collision course with us. But then, they don't care about new findings,unless they support their theory. Amateur astronomers however will be just as excited when a planet is found much further away.

    It's actually a very exciting and interesting article... it means that in the near future, we won't be searching for a needle in a haystack. We know pretty much where to find the needle, if there is any. To me, that is even more reason to search, which hopefully opens up some funding for the scientists who produce these awesome results.
    For me personally, the really exciting thing is that there is so much out there. Perhaps no earth-sized planet, many more dwarf planet than I had ever dreamed...

    • Only the mad conspiracy hatters will be disappointed, because they already know that planet X is on a collision course with us.

      Uh... how would that be a conspiracy? Planet X and the Sun are conspiring to destroy Earth?

  • The Man From Planet X [imdb.com] told me all I needed to know about a rogue planet floating around the solar system.

  • Did they ever figure out why the orbit of Neptune is "wrong"? They were looking for, again, Planet X, and discovered Pluto, but it wasn't large enough to affect Neptune's orbit. (or is it 'effect'?)
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Calculations and measurements improved, narrowing the possible missing effect they attributed to planet X, until finally Voyager 2's measurements found a small correction to Neptune's mass made the need for another planet disappear completely.
  • by gsslay (807818) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @10:46AM (#46704657)

    So does this now mean that Voyager 1 has, or hasn't, left the solar system?

    Cos that's how I usually gauge astronomical retractions.

  • What is Planet X supposed to be nowadays? It was supposed to be a planet beyond Pluto. But first off, Pluto isn't a planet anymore. And there have been a number of KBO's discovered that that are comparable to Pluto. Does Planet X have to meet the actual definition of a planet?

    So what's Planet X if it hasn't already been found and named Eris? Or Makemake? Or Sedna? Or should it actually be called Planet IX, since Pluto isn't a real planet anymore?

    This whole Planet X thing sounds absurd. Between this, and the

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